As the sun sets on the Lake of Two Mountains, a kingfisher named Prometheus swoops down to steal fire from the sunfish. Hard to believe that we walked on this water, like gods, just a few months ago, when all of this was nothing but a blinding white wasteland, and we could scarcely remember what planet we were on. What a magical, terrifying place this is: a land, that can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be the Garden of Eden or the Surface of the Moon.
Snowdrifts that defy gravity grow off of our buildings slowly and menacingly for days. One hangs, at present, above Laval Avenue like a sword of Damocles. It will eventually fall on the unsuspecting head of an innocent passerby. And when it does, it’ll be funny and sad and totally random. The unlucky one won’t deserve the snow job. It’ll just happen.
One thing is clear to us up here in this cold, cold place, where Mother Nature tries to kill you for half the year: people don’t deserve most of the pleasure that comes their way, nor do they deserve most of the pain. Shit just happens. And we help each other, as best we can, deal with the shit that happens.
As I walk through this blizzard in my new winter coat, listening to the soft sound of the snow falling on my hood, I remember why I loved walking in the rain so much when I was a kid. It wasn’t the rain. It was that bright yellow raincoat, those matching boots, and the soft sound of the rain falling on my hood. That’s what I loved: the feeling of impenetrability, invulnerability. I loved what it felt like to be outside in the pouring rain: perfectly dry. Just as I love what it feels like to be outside right now, in the middle of a blizzard, in subzero weather: perfectly warm and dry. Is this what it’s like to be in space in a spacesuit? Is this what I’d like about it? The contrast.
My God! Look at this snow! We’re not naïve about Nature up here. We have no illusions about Her. She tries to kill us half the year. So we don’t love Her. But we do love our technology (things like this coat). And we never forget how much we need each other. Because we never really love the STORM. We’ve got a deep and abiding respect for it though. The Bible says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” But I say unto you: The fear of the STORM is the beginning of winter wisdom.
—John Faithful Hamer, From Here: A Love Letter to Montréal (2017)